Arnold Schwarzenegger rocks Terminator Genisys!

It was fun seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger again as the badass Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Series 800 Terminator sent back in time to meet Sarah Connor. This time Connor is played by Emilia Clarke, Mother of Dragons in Game of Thrones now, here, mother of hero John Connor in Terminator Genisys the latest in the machina apocalypse franchise started by Schwarzenegger and James Cameron in 1984.

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Like many time looping plots, the film struggles to bend logic without breaking it and fails in a few instances thanks to the inherently intractable notion of one travelling to the past to interact with people who influenced your life. But, on that, it is important to stress the difference between walking into a theatre, one arm around a bucket of popcorn, to enjoy a movie and writing a ‘critical’ review about one.

We enjoyed all the Back to the Future films, right? And none of the BttF films would have been the real things had Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd not been in them to reprise Marty McFly and Emmett Lathrop “Doc” Brown, right? Well, that’s the whole essence around why T Genisys works – because Ahnnold is in it.

There’s too much going on and enough chemistry amongst the cast to be too fussed about the parallel timelines you need to keep track of anyway. If you want scientifically-correct sci-fi, go see Gravity or Interstellar (both of which are brilliant, by the way). Most importantly, T Genisys is a movie for true Terminator fans. A lot of the humour and bell-ringing moments that dot the film speak to an audience presumably armed with context gained from the previous Terminator films. Gen Y people need to do their homework before seeing this one.

The one thing about T Genisys that might resonate amongst younger viewers is a real future that our smartphone- and connectivity-obsessed lot might actually be facing. The allusions to Google, and its Android spawn living in our devices and what sort of thing feeding on the data collected through these (and the coming “internet of things” marketers are all hyped up about) might be growing in Silicon Valley’s server farms are quite baldly on exhibit in the movie. Then again, things like that tend to fly over the heads of the A.D.D. Generation, whose members spend their days hunched over a little touch screen feeding our future Skynet.

And then, also introduced to the Skynet arsenal is nanotechnology — used to turn the John Connor that Kyle Reese leaves behind in the future into one of them by employing a swarm of nano-agents to effect the transformation at the cellular level of John’s person. Nanotechnology is seen by today’s artificial intelligence (AI) apocalypse prophets (an esteemed lot that includes Tesla founder Elon Musk, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and uber-cosmologist Stephen Hawking) as the likely physical means with which runaway AI may one day inadvertently drive humanity to extinction as it reengineers the planet to specs more conducive to machine existence.

Unlike in T Genisys, once machines achieve human intelligence and surpass it to become superintelligent, they will quickly skip any need to interact with humans at all. In a sense, Cameron’s Terminator world is actually an optimistic one — where machines are caught in a prolonged physical war for planetary domination with people. The reality may be vastly different. Why create humanoid or even animal-like robots when smaller microscopic nano-units can easily destroy humanity? Michael Crichton already envisioned the dangers of this technology in his 2002 book Prey.

But that’s jumping beyond the whole point behind the audio-visual delight that is Terminator Genisys. An entertaining world enacted by an entertaining cast! Leave the science to the over- analysers.

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11 Comments on “Arnold Schwarzenegger rocks Terminator Genisys!”

  1. “Hasta la Vista, Baby”, as Arnold Schwarzenegger had said in his film…

    We are still in the Infancy in the development of Artificial Intelligence. There are a lots of brains involved in it.

    I believe in using Technology for good; to serve mankind. And, not to compete with mankind. Technology is our servant…not our master…

  2. PREY was mentioned. Good cautionary tale about technology as only Michael Crichton could write it. Highly recommended.

    For some reason I see Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston in the husband and wife main character of that novel.

  3. Can’t comment for now about the movie because I haven’t seen it but you mention about machines achieving and surpassing human intelligence. I remember back in college one of my Psychology professors asked me if these machines, these computers are better than humans. I answered no and he asked why and I said because humans created computers and we manipulate it. And he said, that’s right, we’re better because we still manipulate it (emphasis on ‘still’). This one just sticks with me because at present you’ll see people glued in their gadgets. For me science and technology is super cool especially robots and AI. Though you can now shop, socialize, and do bank transactions using your gadget and, of course, the internet, I still prefer a technology that won’t prevent me from operating my body and my brain and won’t keep me in one place doing nothing. If humans become such basket cases, there’ll be no wonder if machines would surpass us and try to eradicate us in the future. Hehe

    1. Actually, what was once an idea relegated to pulp sci-fi, a possible machine apocalypse is regarded by respectable people as a serious potential threat today.

      It only takes a system that crosses the line and acquires the capability to reporgram its own code. Once that is achieved, that system can and will program away at a speed no human programmer could possibly match (remember, computers work in split-second timescales compared to humans’ hours-based planning capability).

      That’s sort of a parallel with the line crossed by humans which turned our species from just another primate into super-organism that could consciously engineer its environment to suit our tastes and comfort requirements. One science writer called that point the “cognitive explosion” when we became less reliant on our DNA to dictate our behaviours (like all other animals whose instincts are DNA-coded) and more on our advanced minds to develop new more sophisticated behaviours.

      Already we interact with rudimentary AI systems. The spelling checker in our smartphones refine their “skills” by keeping track of our most often-written phrases, word combinations, and which spelling recommendations we accept or reject, for example. So it’s not that far-fetched…

      1. Speaking of rudimentary AI systems, I’ve tried Cleverbot, Jabberwacky and Simsimi before. When I chatted with them I doubted if I was really talking to an AI and not a paid chat operator because they’ll give you sensible answers but then they also started making several slips like doing repetitions, answering in incorrect grammar and other languages, answering nonsense, so I figured it is really an AI responding based on answers they mine from other chatters (as these AIs collects and processes data and responds according to those data). Haha. Sorry. I realized the way I judged if it’s a real AI is if it made a mistake, its answer must be from human and not of its own.

        What’s the definition of superintelligent if we apply it with machines? Does it have a mind of its own? Do we anticipate it to make mistake?

        I was thinking if in the future these superintelligent machines will rule the world, aliens – the real advance and intelligent civilization that we see in the movies – will start from them. I think without the understanding or mind of an evolved humans, they will also start from “eat and be eaten” law, especially if humans show resistance to them or superior machines are inherently hostile to “lowly creation”, before evolving to a being that will adjust-adapt to its environment and take considerations of the role of humans and earth.

  4. For all the things it does, I believe the fact the film doesn’t take itself (or the franchise it’s a part of) too seriously is what will ultimately be its greatest charm for the audience, as well as quite a breath of fresh air if you ask me!

  5. Never took you for a Terminator fan. Indeed, all of the time distortion in that film defied the logic of time as a linear path. Nevermind that though.

    In a few internet memes way back, they looked at the code which Arnold Schwarzenegger’s robot character ran on and it looked all too similar to Apple’s operating system leading to “Apple is Skynet”.

    This latest film though, with all of the windows phone placements and the countdown to Genisys being on 1 billion devices seems like Microsoft’s wanting to get in on the act. If we’re not careful, with Windows 10 coming out in 3 weeks, out world might just be ruled by computers (not a bad thing for the Philippines though lol).

    1. Yeah, if you watch the original Terminator film, you’ll be amazed at how prescient the notions introduced there were.

      Being ruled by computers is actually the optimistic scenario. Many futurists foresee machines altogether deciding they have no further need for humans and continue geo-engineering the planet to maximise capture of energy for their growing needs. It’ll be nothing personal. It’s like the way we simply cut down trees to make way for a coal mine. Just business.

  6. I personally do not think I’ll see the rise of singularity in my lifetime. Computers, despite or great advances, can only follow what they’re instructed to do, nothing more, nothing less. They are great in speed up computation, but, unlike humans, pathetic in pattern recognition.

    What I think I’ll see in my lifetime is akin to “Ghost in a Shell” – human neurological system interacting with technology. If you’re not convinced, look no further to Kevin Warwick who was able to interface with machine.

    Moreover, another approach could be simulating how the human brain works. The Blue Brain using supercomputer to reconstruct the brain, starting from the molecular level. Currently, they’re building the cortical column, a unit in the brain composed to ten thousands of neurons. Who knows, with the neural interface and a simulated brain, one can transfer ones mind, assuming we’ll find ways to map the human brain.

    Finally, nanotechnology, though hype by media, is still at its infancy. Currently, we’re using passive nano particles. In layman terms, these can be compared to primitive basic tools like polished stones or flint of stone.

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